Eleni Mylonas

Eleni was born in 1944 in Athens, Greece. Lives and works in New York and Athens.

Ave Maria is the nexus of many realities and countless contradictions. It sums up the disparity of the world I inhabit uniting personal experience and collective memory. With an emphasis on opposites and a focus on the triad, Ave Maria is symbolical and universal. Everything happens everywhere at once.
A look into the origins of Shubert’s Ave Maria leads to Sir Walter Scott’s influential love poem Lady of the Lake. The prayer of a maiden is transmuted into a Catholic hymn. The supreme African American hero Frederic Douglas takes his name from the same heroine. The KKK appropriates the fiery cross branding it as the symbol of bigotry and racism.
The chosen images record events that have deeply moved me. The video culminates in a sequence which I shot in 2003 on the day American fighter planes were flying overhead on their way to bomb Iraq for the first time, blasting open Pandora’s box. As I was recording the drowned lamb being washed out to shore I was prescient of the carnage that would ensue from this insane action. This horror has been etched in my soul. The absurdity of an older Chinese man playing Ave Maria on a single string and the Italian young man singing his heart out make for a fitting requiem to the fallen.

Displaced is a continuation of a series of paintings inspired by news photos from the developments in the Middle East. My background in Journalism and my identity as a dual national allows me to identify with both the photographer in the field and the subject, placing me squarely within the picture. While working with each image and translating it into a painting I inhabit it and allow it to find a new dimension and meaning. It is my way of getting to know these people and sharing their plight. The photograph behind the present work shows a family from Syria at the beginning of the Syrian crisis. Huddled together in the middle of nowhere, this Syrian family did not anticipate losing home and country and finding itself suspended in the unknown. In this very unsteady world we may all become refugees. This is you and me sitting on that mattress. In the stark background of the image I drew the outline of the map of Europe, which appears to be the only hope for their salvation. Displaced pays homage to the enormous populations that are forced to flee their homes in order to survive and it may act as a mirror of our very own fears.